A federal judge is suggesting he may withhold any ruling in the landmark case on whether fluoride in drinking water poses an “unreasonable risk” and is eligible for regulation under the revised toxics law to allow the plaintiffs to file a new petition that will address new data that has been developed since they first petitioned EPA in 2016.
“We’ve gone well beyond administrative record, because so much has changed since that petition was filed,” Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said on June 17, the last day of witness testimony in the case, Fluoride Action Network et al., v. EPA.
“What was presented to the EPA was a very different record than what I have in front of me now,” he added.
While Chen’s suggestion signals the landmark suit — which at this stage is considering whether fluoride poses an “unreasonable risk” and is eligible for regulation — is likely to drag on for some time, the judge nevertheless assured that he is prepared to rule relatively quickly should he be required to.
“This case has been tried, I have the record, and if I have to, I’ll rule on it,” Chen said. “But I’m thinking months, not years,” he said.
Most of the studies introduced into evidence by both the plaintiff and defense’s expert witnesses had not been published at the time the plaintiffs first filed their petition with EPA in 2016, including key studies the plaintiffs relied on to show neurotoxic effects of water fluoridation on animals.
… The court will hold a status conference on the case on Aug. 6, in order to give EPA time to do post-trial briefing as well as weigh the option of the plaintiffs filing a new petition.
But the plaintiffs expressed disappointment with the outcome, saying it will delay a decision they have been seeking for years to limit exposures…
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